Spagnolo's goal leads Burrell over Valley in rain-soaked match
After a two-week delay in the Section 1-AA soccer showdown, Burrell's Tom Spagnolo wasn't going to be bothered by an extra, 80-minute delay.
Spagnolo's 17th goal of the season with 28:28 remaining in the match proved to be enough to give the Bucs a 1-0 decision over Valley Saturday night at Buccaneers Stadium.
The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 21, but torrential rains that morning postponed the action.
Players and fans endured another delay because of heavy showers and lightning as Saturday night's encounter didn't start until 8:20.
The victory kept Burrell (10-4, 8-2) a game in front of Indiana in the section race while Valley slipped to fourth place at 5-4-1, 5-4-1.
The Bucs looked to break a scoreless tie with 30 minutes left in the second half, but Burrell was called for pushing near the goal box.
Valley got a free kick, but the Bucs quickly retook possession and Spagnolo found the upper right corner of the goal.
“I felt great to finally score against them, and finally beat them” Spagnolo said.
Burrell was rolling along with an undefeated section mark until losing two straight losses earlier in the week.
“We executed and played a full 80 minutes tonight,” said Bucs coach T.J. Trozzi. “Before, we were playing only 40 or 50 minutes, that's why we had two losses. But we're very resilient and were ready to bounce back tonight.”
“We had a little tough time in the two games we lost,” Spagnolo said. “But it feels good to bounce back and beat our rivals.”
Burrell looked like it would score early. A pass from Jon McAfoose to Corey Mazary resulted in a shot that hit the crossbar.
Valley's first threat came 19 minutes into the contest when a direct kick by Ben Carlisle was caught by junior goalkeeper Justin Schwartz.
Senior Dominic Guzzi had a pair of opportunities for Valley early in the second half.
His first shot hit the crossbar. Guzzi rebounded, but his shot was blocked by Burrell defender Andrew Stewart.
Valley coach Andrew DeAntonio wasn't surprised at the low-scoring contest.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a one-goal game,” DeAntonio said. “We were hoping that because we've been having some hard times finding the back of the net lately. We wanted to make sure things were in our favor at halftime. The second half, it was just a good shot by Tom.”
Valley must win its final two section matches and hope for some help. The top three teams make the playoffs.
Despite the heavy rain, the 48-year-old stadium surface held up well.
“Our athletic director Brian Ferra and the field site manager and the referees kept an eye on it,” Trozzi said. “They squeegeed the goal mouth out, and the field was great. It was a really good playing surface.”
The two rivals will tangle again at 7 p.m. Thursday at Valley.
The WPIAL playoff pairings will be determined on Oct. 16.
George Guido is a freelance writer.